If you are a teacher, student, or parent looking for quality back-to-school tech that is fully-compatible and optimized for a Chromebook, you’ve come to the right place! Whether you are a teacher returning to the classroom or a student preparing for high school or college, here is a round-up of my favorite back-to-school tech gear specifically for the Chromebook user
Classroom Chromebook recommendations
Picking a Chromebook to recommend is probably the most challenging task. There are LOTS of good ones! Here are three solid options to consider:
- Asus Chromebook CX5400 – this is a powerful Chromebook with a sleek design that is ideal for multi-tasking teachers or college students. This is one of only a few Chromebooks that offers a garaged stylus, which is handy for annotating lessons or turning in math homework. You can read Robby’s full review here.
- Lenovo Duet 3 – The duet continues to be an absolute smash hit as a secondary device. The duet is the perfect “throw in your bag” device to use for taking lecture notes, grading papers in the living room, or taking on the road for remote learning. You can read the full review of the Duet 3 here.
- CTL PX11e – If you are buying a daily-use device for an elementary or middle school student, you want something that is durable. CTL makes devices for the classroom, but also sells directly to consumers. The PX11E is the device that I recommend to all of the schools that I consult with.
- Chromebook Case – if you are sending your student back to school with a new Chromebook, PLEASE put it in a case! No Chromebook (even the rugged ones) can withstand the rigors of a middle school hallway! I recommend an “always-on” case like this one from Higher Ground ($50). Parenting tip: Replacing a Chromebook screen will cost $50-$130. Buying a high-quality case is a good investment!
- USI Stylus – Adding a digital pen to your touch-screen Chromebook is a must-have, in my opinion. The Penoval USI702 digital pen is my current favorite and the only USI pen that features an eraser. You can pick one up on Amazon for $54.
- Drawing tablet – if you DON’T have a touch-screen Chromebook you can still annotate and draw by connecting a drawing tablet. Wacom makes several models that are compatible with Chromebooks. The One by Wacom ($40) is great for grading student work, and the Wacom One ($399) is ideal for digital art and design.
- Webcam – Chromebook webcams are mediocre at best. If you are taking virtual classes or teaching remotely, I highly recommend that you upgrade to an external webcam. Lately, I have been using the Okiolabs A10 ($119) which has a really cool auto-framing feature that keeps you centered in the frame.
- Wired Earbuds – More schools are including earbuds in their school supply list. Your middle school student does NOT need an expensive set of earbuds! This five-pack of wired earbuds ($13) is perfect for younger students. The built-in mic will allow them to create school videos and podcasts. Give them one set and keep another for when they lose them!
- Microphone – If you plan on recording lessons or podcasting, you should invest in a decent microphone. This $50 mic kit has everything you need to teach virtually or start a podcast. I used this exact set to record the Chromebook Classroom podcast.
- Compact external monitor – I don’t know how anyone can survive without a second monitor! It’s so essential that I bought this travel external monitor that fits into my backpack. If you like to study in the library or teach remotely, this is a great productivity boost!
- USB-C Hub – if you end up purchasing all of the gear I listed above, you are going to need a way to connect the mic, webcam, and monitor to your Chromebook! I have been using this USB-C hub from HooTo ($42) for years. It’s a great value and works really well.
- Gear Bag – If you are a techy teacher, you’re going to need something to organize and transport all of your gear. For small items, I use this grid organizer from Cocoon ($8). For my collection of random cables, adapters, and dongles, I use the Cable Stable from Skooba ($26)
The good news is that there are lots of free web-based tools that work wonderfully with your Chromebook. Here are some of my favorites. Note: most of the tools listed below offer a free and premium version of their product. I recommend that you start with the free version and if you use it a lot, consider upgrading!
- Kami PDF Editor – this is my go-to solution for editing, merging, and signing PDFs.
- Canva – If you need to design cute graphics for your classroom, or update your Google Classroom header, Canva is a great option! Educators can upgrade to a free premium account here.
- ScreenPal – this is a new Chrome extension that you can use to send video messages to students in any text field. It’s free to use! You can install Screenpal from the Chrome Webstore.
- Figma – this collaborative design and brainstorming tool is very popular in the design community, but a recent partnership with Google has made Figma available in the classroom as well!
- Screencast – Google announced this new lesson recording tool over the summer. The Screencast app is pre-installed on all Chromebooks. I’m excited to try it this school year!
Chromebook Classroom resources & ideas
That’s the end of my gear list, but I have a few final resources for Chromebook-using teachers! This list of lesson resources will help you set up your classroom and prepare for the upcoming school year.
- Google Classroom setup checklist
- Student technology skills checklist
- Teach with Chrome (virtual course)
- Chromebook keyboard shortcuts (printable classroom poster)
- Google Classroom for parents (PDF guide + video)
Best wishes to all the teachers, students, and parents as you begin the 2022-23 school year!